The Political Career of
Charlotta A. Bass
Gerald R. Gill
Expressing his support for Charlotta A. Bass's vice-presidential campaign as the Progressive party nominee in 1952, the noted singer-activist Paul Robeson characterized Bass as "a sturdy, fighting colored woman whose life has been a forthright struggle for the rights of her people to live in peace as first-class citizens. She's a great woman, is Mrs. Bass—tried in struggle, forgiving, understanding in the fight for unity of black and white—a true Sojourner of Truth." 1 Robeson's words of praise were a fit capsulization of the life and career of Charlotta Bass. For over forty years, Bass enjoyed a public career as varied and as distinguished as that of any of her black contemporaries, male or female.
From 1910 to 1952, she was first a reporter, then managing editor, and later business manager, editor, publisher, and owner of the California Eagle, the oldest black newspaper on the West Coast. During these very same years, she involved herself in campaigns to abolish restrictive covenants in housing and to end job discrimination in Los Angeles County. Moreover, she was actively involved in most of the major civil rights and Pan-Africanist organizations from the heyday of the progressive era to the eve of the more active phase of the civil rights movement. Few of her contemporaries could match Bass's involvement in as many varied organizations: the Universal Negro Improvement Asso